SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY: THE ROLE OF MUSIC IN THE MEANING-MAKING PROCESSES OF OLDER PERFORMING MUSICIANS

Open Access
Author:
Reed, Sandra Marlene
Graduate Program:
Adult Education
Degree:
Doctor of Education
Document Type:
Dissertation
Date of Defense:
January 17, 2008
Committee Members:
  • Patricia Angelica Cranton, Committee Chair
  • Elizabeth Jean Tisdell, Committee Member
  • William John Mahar, Committee Member
  • Clemmie Edward Gilpin, Committee Member
  • Edgar I Farmer Sr., Committee Member
Keywords:
  • older musicians
  • artistic ways of knowing
  • bandsmanship
  • band as community
  • individuation
  • mature spirituality
Abstract:
The purpose of this narrative inquiry was to determine the role that music plays in the meaning-making processes of older performing musicians. The study was informed by literature from three fields, specifically, adult education, social gerontology, and music. The findings of this inquiry suggest that performing music may be one way to ensure good health, foster productive engagement in activities with others, and facilitate self-knowledge and thus, individuation. The theoretical framework for the study was grounded in experiential learning theory, continuity theory, and Jung's concept of individuation. Research was conducted utilizing the methodology of narrative inquiry, closely informed by phenomenology. To ensure information-rich data, both personal and focus group interviews were used in data collection. The intensity sample was comprised of nine performing musicians from the New Holland Band, a community band situated in the borough of New Holland, Pennsylvania. Participants ranged in age from 72 to 93 at the time of the study. Four cross-themes emerged from data analysis. First, mentors and early encounters with music shaped the musical lives of the narrators so significantly that being performers has served as a constant throughout their adulthood, especially during times of stress or transition. Second, the commingling of context, repertoire, performers, and audience created musical experiences for narrators that were profound, and for some of them, spiritual. Data supporting this cross-theme also highlighted music's capacity to influence narrators' emotions and spirit, thereby contributing to the development of a more mature spirituality. Third, the New Holland Band was viewed by narrators as a community in which they felt valued for their contribution to musical excellence. Fourth, narrators either did not feel as old as their chronological age, or they managed symptoms of aging so as not to have them interfere with the continuity of their preferred lifestyle. And, participants' obvious passion for what was personally relevant - performing music - further suggested their progression toward individuation.